Interpretations of “Walking Mad”

Light-hearted humor. Dancers with red pointy hats are performing. A woman runs away from men chasing her. They’re surrounding her; the lights are dim. Why do the men toss her around? She runs away. Why does he trap her? Is she okay? What does this all mean?

A wall?

Why a wall?

The woman looks scared, but a few seconds before she seemed fine. She seemed amused.

All of a sudden the mood changes. Why?

The wall transforms into a barrier.

The wall that once stood straight is at an angle –

Listen; the music becomes mute.

The woman, sits in the corner, facing the wall.

What does this represent?

Does it remind you of a dark alley, of loneliness and confusion?

Perhaps for only a few seconds because then a man comes along, it seems like he and the woman are meeting.

The music is low, the movements are sudden — an awkward, hesitant and affectionate encounter.

But wait, she is trying to get away.

Kick, crawl, climb, slam, jump.

Going nowhere.

Dark alley?

Slamming into the wall?

What happened to the slow movements?

The wall encloses the man and woman; the shadows are the only witness.

Impulsive and hurried movements illustrate the scene.

She is no longer amused!

The humor fades — the woman is battling this man trying to control her, he is trying to take advantage of her.

This is not playfulness.

This is not respect; this is not two strangers meeting anymore.

Dark alleys, dark alleys…is this wall a representation of a dark alley?

Why am I crying?

Am I going mad?

No.

Did I not just witness sexual assault?

I did, I swear…I saw with my own eyes…the man… he, the man…tried to make the woman submissive, she battled…the man.

But then the movements become slow again, washing away what had just occurred a few seconds ago, and portraying a sense of sadness…of letting go.

Did they love each other?

She loves him, I see it in the way she moves.

But, how could she love him — he didn’t treat her right.

Guilt-ridden and mortified man?

He took advantage of her.

Fortunately, she escapes his hold; once more a relationship ends — leaving nothing but eternal memories, scars, and fears…

How did this all come along?

I was confused, mesmerized, and began to question what I really saw.

Weren’t the dancers just dancing? No. It was something beyond the mere movement of the body; it was a story being told centered around a woman meeting a man.

Isn’t this what I was meant to see? A vague and unsettling story, of lines being crossed, that can essentially be applied to life — the ghetto?

Misleading and ambiguous movements.

So sudden.

These were the thoughts I had as I watched “Walking Mad” performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


It was John Inger’s intention, as the choreographer, to enhance emotions, create laughter, tears and to show how a wall, “can be a symbol of the barriers people construct in their relationships.”

He meant to blend work together; to take a different angle of Maurice Ravel’s song “Bolero” and transform it into a piece that conveys a message, a story, and a meaning.

He constructs a new twist, a new angle, to a piece that already conveyed a sense of progression — such that the beginning encompassed controlled movements and sounds, but then built up, climaxed and crescendoed into an ecstatic array of uncontrolled movements…with and without sound.

Part of his transformative angle was the wall: a simple, plain, tangible object that was able to be crawled over, stood on, slammed into, and folded into certain settings — one being where the woman and man battled and faced confrontation as the wall stood at a 90-degree angle — a dark alley.


Art transcends and goes beyond boundaries.

All it took was nine dancers, twenty-eight minutes, and one wooden wall.

Dark illustrations and memories clouded my mind.

I felt frozen in time as if what I watched was solely an illusion, and that the bodies moving were precisely just bodies moving.

Kick, crawl, climb, slam, jump.

Sexual assault is real, it’s prevalent, it’s repulsive, it’s vague and one cannot afford to let it go unnoticed.

It leaves survivors questioning their sanity, reality, as if they are outcasts in the society they once belonged to.

Their lives are transformed — leaving eternal memories, scars, and fears…

So notice the sudden changes…the vague confrontations, the red flags, the unsettling feelings…

It can happen to anyone.

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